Leadership Perspectives

MobileBest: Universal Linking Is How Mobile Apps and Mobile Web Kiss

Becky Doles

This article originally appeared on Mobile Marketing Watch.

The app versus web argument is old and boring. Marketers who want to win are skipping the rhetoric and jumping straight to MobileBest: winning with the best of each.

And, winning where apps and web converge.

Or, if you like, kiss.

As we all know, apps won. 85% of our time on mobile is spent in apps. But apps have challenges: No one is going to install an app for every single company they do business with, and three to five apps make up the majority of most people’s mobile app time.

The reality is that now mobile web and mobile apps are converging.

We see that in apps, if we’re honest. While 85% of our time on mobile is in an app, a significant fraction of that 85% is actually on the mobile web, embedded in an app. That’s tapping a link in Facebook to The New York Times. Tapping a video shared on Flipboard through to YouTube, and watching it. And following a link in Gmail to see a photo on Imgur full-size.

We also see that in the rise of deep linking, or universal linking.

First introduced by Apple in iOS 9, Universal Links are the key to unlocking a truly optimized brand journey for consumers on mobile.

Prior to universal links, deep linking had significant user experience drawbacks. The step between accessing content and launching the app wasn’t always seamless. Bringing people to the app store to deep link into an app interrupts flow and adds friction: bad for both conversions and customer experience.

Universal links solve this issue by enabling marketers to create an uninterrupted user experience that flows between apps and the mobile web. Don’t have the app? The link works for mobile web. Have the app? The link will place you into the app at precisely the right place to take the next logical step in your customer journey.

Unfortunately, the average marketer is still confused about deep links. Only 5% of marketers actually use them today.

But universal links create a much more streamlined customer experience. They ensure the customer journey is simple and transparent, even behind walled gardens that can be hard for marketers to connect to the rest of their analytics.

App marketers can understand what makes consumers reach their apps and decide to download or engage with them. Brand marketers can deliver immediate experiences, regardless of what technology their prospects are using. And performance marketers can offer a clear, simple, and fast path to conversion.

All of this means that marketers hit KPIs and achieve higher conversion rates. What marketer would be against that?

Marketers need to stop debating whether to prioritize one platform over the other, and begin focusing on the fact that consumers want the best experience, which is giving them what they want as fast and easily as possible. The mobile app economy is evolving to accommodate this need, and it’s fostering the rise of Universal Links — and other technologies, like Instant Apps and Progressive Web Apps.

All of these are optimized for the experience people demand from an app, aligned with the ease of navigation expected from the web, and rolled into a single delivery system.

The barrier between the app and web experience can be a massive roadblock to a seamless and productive customer journey for brands. Universal Linking ushers in a new phase of the app economy, where marketers are finally able to clear the hurdles that stymied brand experience in mobile.

And, that, frankly, is what we like to call MobileBest.

Plus, let’s be honest. Who doesn’t like to see sworn enemies kiss?

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

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